- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Tweeting the morning after 13 people were killed in Barcelona after a van plowed through crowds in a busy pedestrian area, President Donald Trump called on American courts to “give us our protective rights back” to stop “Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
While it’s unclear what “protective rights” the president was referring to, he has previously advocated for an expansion of the US’ mass surveillance capabilities, and Trump’s top intelligence officials, including CIA director Mike Pompeo, have fought even narrow restrictions on the surveillance state.
The president has been heavily criticized by human rights and civil liberties advocates for his stances on combating terrorism, including his support for the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, his promotion of the use of torture in the interrogation of detainees, and his ban on immigrants from several predominantly Muslim countries.
Trump has also come under fire for focusing exclusively on terrorism perpetrated by adherents of radical Islam. Earlier this week, the president refused to label an attack on a group of protesters by a white supremacist in Charlottesville terrorism, even though the Justice Department is investigating the crime as an act of terror.
Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary! The courts must give us back our protective rights. Have to be tough!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2017
On Thursday, after condemning the attack in Spain, Trump advocated the US follow the example of Army Gen. John Joseph Pershing, the governor of the Philippines during the US occupation of the islands during the early 20th century, who Trump has previously claimed dipped bullets in pigs’ blood during a brutal campaign against Muslim insurgents. (Some Muslims believe that pigs’ blood is unholy.)
“He had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people,” Trump said at a rally in February 2016. “And the 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem.”
Historians and fact-checkers say there is little evidence to support the story.
Max Tani contributed to this report.